Due to the passing of the FAFSA Simplification Act enacted by congress, Federal Student Aid is rolling out significant changes to the FAFSA in phases, with the largest improvements coming in the 2024-2025 aid year.
This first major redesign in over 40 years is intended to make applying for federal student aid easier for students, with fewer questions and fewer requirements to streamline the process.
The 2024-25 FAFSA is now available! CCSNH institutions will receive FAFSA data in mid-March.
The U.S. Department of Education has launched the overhauled 2024-2025 FAFSA; however, schools won’t begin to receive FAFSA data until mid-March (at the earliest), which means colleges won’t be able to notify students that your FAFSA has been received until late March or early April.
What’s Changing With the FAFSA?
Streamlined application process
The FAFSA will have fewer questions, fewer requirements, and retrieve tax information using a direct data exchange from the IRS instead of the previous IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
The Student Aid Index (SAI) is replacing the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
A notable terminology update within the new FAFSA is the replacement of the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI). This name more accurately describes the number used to determine aid eligibility and, unlike the EFC, the SAI may be a negative number down to -1500.
The number in college will not be used to calculate the SAI. Previously, the FAFSA calculated the number of household members attending college into the EFC, dividing it proportionately to determine federal aid eligibility. Beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA, the application will still ask how many household members are in college, but your answer will not be calculated into the SAI. As such, undergraduate students with siblings in college may see a change in their federal aid eligibility.
A contributor refers to refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student’s form (such as a parent/stepparent or spouse). A student’s or parent’s answers on the FAFSA will determine which contributors (if any) will be required to provide information.
Contributors will receive an email informing them that they’ve been identified as such and will need to log in using their own FSA ID (if they don’t already have one) to provide the required information on the student’s FAFSA.
If your parents are divorced or separated, the contributing parent(s) is the parent (and their spouse, if remarried) who provided the greater portion of your financial support during the 12 months immediately prior to filing the FAFSA. It is not automatically the parent you primarily lived with during the past 12 months.
All Contributors–student, student’s spouse (if married), and student’s parents(s) (if a dependent student)–must provide consent to have tax data transferred directly from the IRS to the FAFSA. If consent is not provided by all parties, the student will not be eligible for federal financial aid. In previous years, transferring IRS data was optional. It is now required.
Being a contributor does not mean they are financially responsible for the student’s education costs, but it does mean the contributor must provide information on the FAFSA or the application will be incomplete, and the student will not be eligible for federal student aid.
Expanding Pell Grant eligibility
The adjustments to the new Student Aid Index (SAI) calculation will expand Federal Pell Grant eligibility to more students.
Families making less than 175% and single parents making less than 225% of the federal poverty level will see their students receive a maximum Federal Pell Grant award. Minimum Pell Grants will be guaranteed to students from households below 275%, 325%, 350%, or 400% of the poverty level, depending on household structure. Pell awards between the maximum and minimum amounts will be determined by SAI.
Family farms and small businesses must be reported as assets.
When required, families must now report the value of their small business or family farm. If the family farm includes the principal place of residence, applicants should determine the total net value of all farm assets and subtract the net value of their principal residence to determine the final value of their farm assets.
Preparing to Complete the FAFSA
Create an account on the Federal Student Aid site.
Your contributors will each need their own StudentAid.gov account too. “Contributor” is a new term on the 2024–25 FAFSA form—it refers to anyone (you, your spouse, your biological or adoptive parent, or your parent’s spouse) required to provide information on your FAFSA form.
As a student, you’ll be required to enter your Social Security number (SSN) to create a StudentAid.gov account unless you’re a citizen of the Freely Associated States. However, beginning with the 2024–25 FAFSA form, your contributors who don’t have an SSN can create a StudentAid.gov account to complete their section of your FAFSA form.
Gather your contributor information.
When you fill out the FAFSA form, you will answer questions that will determine who needs to be a contributor on your form. However, you may be able to identify your contributors now to get a head start on collecting the information you will need to invite them to your form.
To invite contributors to your FAFSA form, you will be asked to provide their:
- first and last name,
- SSN (if they have one),
- date of birth, and
- email address.
Note: Being identified as a contributor on the FAFSA form will not make your family member responsible for paying for your education costs.
Gather your 2022 tax information.
Beginning on the 2024–25 FAFSA form, you and your contributors must provide consent and approval to have your federal tax information transferred directly from the IRS into your FAFSA form. Providing consent and approval is mandatory, even if you or your contributors do not have an SSN, did not file a tax return, or filed a tax return outside the U.S.
You and your contributors should have your tax returns on hand when you fill out the FAFSA form. Even though your tax information will be imported directly into the FAFSA form, you may still need your tax records to answer certain questions.
Make sure you report 2022 income on the 2024–25 FAFSA form. Do not use your 2023 tax information. We understand that for some families, the 2022 income does not accurately reflect your current financial situation. If you or a contributor on your form had a significant change in income since the 2022 tax year, you should still complete the FAFSA form with 2022 tax information. Then, contact the school where you plan to attend and explain and document the change in income. School officials can assess your situation and may adjust your FAFSA form if warranted.
Gather records of your untaxed income.
You and your contributors may need to answer FAFSA questions about untaxed income, such as child support and interest income.
Remember: On the 2024–25 FAFSA form, you’ll use 2022 tax or calendar year information to answer these questions.
Gather records of your assets.
The FAFSA form will ask you and your contributors questions about your assets, so make sure you have records of your savings and checking account balances, as well as the value of any investments, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate (excluding your primary residence). Report the current amounts of your assets as of the date you sign the FAFSA form, rather than reporting the 2022 tax year amounts.
Complete Your FAFSA Form
To submit the FAFSA form, go to https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa.
The following videos may assist you with the filing process: